Lotus is introducing an expensive new V8-engined Elite at Paris, implying the new Lotus position is bent over. However, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Eclat gives you most of the bragging rights at a fraction of the price.
Yesterday was more like it, with none of that too close to call baloney for the '77 Audi 50, a contender that received an 83% Crack Pipe spanking due to an overly optimistic price. The same year that Polo-mimicker left its German factory, so did a vastly different car from a shed in Great Britain. Lotus, perennially more interested in racing than building road cars took to the seventies with a new bespoke motor and a series of cars that appeared to be straight out of Thunderbirds are Go! The 907 DOHC 2.0 four cylinder was the company's first inside-designed engine for a road car, and was dropped under the hoods of the Elite, the Eclat, and the hatch of the Esprit. Presaging those Loti, it debuted in the Jensen Healey where owners graciously acquiesced to be Lotus' durability testers, discovering weaknesses in oil sealing, distributor mounts and cooling performance.
Today's '77 Eclat shuns that original four - frequently berated as the torqueless wonder - for an engine that has a history on both sides of the Atlantic. The Buick aluminum V8 powered Tempests back in the sixties, and then damn-near everything from TVRs to Range Rovers after that once Buick sold the tooling to the Brits. Now it powers this Lotus. That's right, you don't have to wait for Lardy McLotus to dent the carpet at the Paris Auto Show, you can get yourself a V8-powered Lotus coupe today, and not only is it a good 2/3s the weight, but it also costs less than the Elite's likely gas guzzler tax - they do still have that, right?
The Eclat was a faster-backed derivation of the atomic breadvan that was the ‘70s Elite. This one is painted a shade of yellow considered to be a cat attractant, with a black-painted hood center to at least keep the felines out of your line of sight. Under that cat-free hood resides a ‘tuned' Buick V8 of the pushrod variety. Now there's nothing wrong with pushrods, hell they've been keeping the Corvette in popcorn and panties for more than 50 years, but it seems a little low-tech for inclusion in a car from a company renowned for their engineering acumen even if that's backed up with bailing wire build quality. The original all-alloy 907 engine weighed a svelte 275 lbs, while the aluminum 3.5-litre 8 from Buick is less than 50 more at 318-lbs. Yeah that means the Eclat's Triumph-based A-arm suspension, probably now speaks with a think accent of understeer, but hot diggity dog, that's a V8 in a 2366-lb car! And while it's not as shiny and new as the upcoming Paris debutant - and of course that car's hardtop roof can be lowered while the Eclat's is fixed - that's not to say this one wouldn't be more fun than a barrel of mung beans.
The seller claims that the car goes like the clappers, engendering visions of a nightgown-clad old woman slapping her hands together in order to get it to start. He also says that the gray interior is in great shape which tells you both its condition and the fact that it probably started out being beige. Backing up the Buick is a T5 tranny out of. . . oh, damn-near anything, another point it can lord over the new Elite, which comes only in auto-guise. The new one does come with climate control but can't trump the Eclat there either because it has with all the A/C you can eat, just as soon as you hook up the pressure hoses. Outside, he claims that the paint is cracking, but that could easily be the fiberglass below as these cars were built in giant molds that were pre-painted and then had the fiberglass laid in, impregnating it with the color. Regardless, you might want to paint it some other color – if only for the cat issue. Mileage? Who cares, it's a Lotus and mile one represents the same threat of the car crapping out as does a full spin of the odo.
Steve, the seller, is asking $5,500 for his Paris Debut-deflating V8 Lotus, and, fearing scammers like they were discount fugu, will only do business over the phone. But before ringing him up, we need to determine if that price makes this Lotus flower bloom for you, or if it acts like agent orange?
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